High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a disease that develops when blood flows through your arteries at higher-than-normal pressures.
Sadly not vary many people know the meaning of the figures doctors look at when they check their blood pressure.
They just see numbers go up and come down. All they want to hear is that their blood pressure is normal.
Yes! No one looks forward to a bad news about their blood pressure.
But unfortunately, most persons still have high blood pressure.
It is a disease that people also refer to as a ‘silent killer’.
Basically, your blood pressure is a combination of two numbers: systolic and diastolic.
Systolic pressure is the pressure when the ventricles pump blood out of the heart.
Diastolic pressure is the pressure between heartbeats when the heart is filling with blood (1).
One thing you should know is that your blood pressure changes throughout the day based on your activities.
For most adults, a normal blood pressure is less than 120 over 80 millimeters of mercury.
This figure is written as your systolic pressure reading over your diastolic pressure reading – 120/80 mm Hg.
High blood pressure is recorded when you have consistent systolic readings of 130 mm Hg or higher or diastolic readings of 80 mm Hg or higher.
With this knowledge you can get a blood pressure measuring equipment and check yours as often as possible.
In fact, people already diagnosed with the issue should have one. It is one of the easier conditions to diagnose in this life.
When you hear people talk about high blood pressure as a ‘silent killer’, they do so for a reason.
It mostly does not give any sign until it has caused serious health problems. This is why it is important that you take your readings as often as possible. At least once a year form age 3 upwards.
When you fail to identify this issue and it lingers for long, it could cause different issues.
- Chronic kidney disease
- Eye damage
- Heart attack
- Heart failure
- Peripheral artery disease or carotid artery disease
- Vascular dementia
Causes Of High Blood Pressure
There are different causes of this condition, but majority of them are classified as lifestyle-related.
Studies say hypertension could happen because of unhealthy lifestyle choices.
Unfortunately, the first is something people do not want to hear – not getting enough regular physical activity.
Yes! Sedentary lifestyle is a major trouble with people these days.
People move less and they give less attention to exercise time. Yet they want to eat so much carbohydrate, drink processed and sweetened drinks, eat snacks and get less sleep.
Other causes are certain health conditions, such as diabetes and obesity.
It can also come from gene. Where it is in family history.
Intake of too much alcohol, tobacco smoking, unhealthy diet, age, and race are also common factors that contribute.
The blood pressure of a pregnant woman can also go up as a result of her pregnancy (2).
How To Bring High Blood Pressure Down And Keep It Down
According to Dr. Ademola Orolu, a consultant and family physician this condition could be managed.
Once the individual is willing and ready to do what it takes, the pressure could come down and stay down.
He suggests that lifestyle modification is the first thing an individual must do to manage the condition.
While the persons takes medications, it is necessary for a lifestyle modification.
Here are modifications to make to lower hypertension.
1. Increase Physical Activity Level Or Exercise
Since one of the causes of this condition is low physical activities, it makes sense to increase the level.
Begin by forming an exercise routine that will be favourable to your kind of job.
It is necessary that you form a habit of exercising either in the morning or in the evening.
You can talk a walk from home to your bus stop. You can run the stairs instead of using the elevator.
Get a skipping rope and use it in the morning or evening when you return from work.
According to a study, in hypertensive patients, physical activity has been associated with paradoxical regression or prevention of left ventricular hypertrophy, suggesting a mechanism by which exercise can benefit hypertensive patients (3).
While exercise is helpful, there is need to know much of it is needed. Have a discussion about this with your doctor to know the amount of exercise needed.
Mild exercises could do the magic for some persons while some persons may need high intensity exercise.
2. Take Herbs And Vegetables That Lower Blood Pressure
Basically, the kind of food an individual who has low physical activities level eat each day should favour of the person’s health.
If you feed the body foods with saturated fat (mostly in processed foods) and engage in sedentary life, you are increasing the days of trouble.
Saturated fats can form plaques around the arteries. Blood cells will then stick to this particles that sneak into the arteries and clog the arteries.
The heart will then need to work more to push blood through.
Certain foods or natural herbs can help lower cholesterol level and here are a few supported by research.
Most of them are available in Nigeria and we will give their common names.
Buchu, garlic, prickly custard apple, celery, breadfruit, foods high in dietary fibre, ajwain, coffee wood and black beans.
Others are lavender, moringa, carrot and more. A study highlights how these herbs and vegetables help (4).
3. Eat Less Salt And More Potassium
Also, a person’s salt intake may just be the reason for the gradual rise in blood pressure.
This is why it is necessary to follow the rule of not taking more than a teaspoon of salt per day.
Make up your mind and lower the intake of salt, as excess of it could affect the heart.
Read About How Salt Affects The Heart
On the other hand, it is recommended that you consider potassium-rich foods if your blood pressure is high.
According to studies, when you eat potassium, it helps your body lose more sodium through urine.
Also, potassium helps to ease tension in your blood vessel walls. This helps lower blood pressure.
Furthermore, adults with blood pressure above 120/80 are advised to increase potassium through diet (5).
4. Eat More Of Whole Grain
High cholesterol level has been linked to high blood pressure.
However, whole grain foods are great in lowering cholesterol level. They clean the intestinal tract and ensure that fat particles do not escape to clog the arteries (6).
Processed swallow foods are low in fibre because of the processing. If you eat foods like Semo and Eba, you should replace with plantain, sorghum, red rice flour and other healthier alternatives.
5. Moderate Intake Of Alcohol
If you take alcohol, you have seen that one of the contributing factors is excessive alcohol intake.
It makes so much sense to take moderate quantity of alcohol.
Several studies say excessive consumption of alcohol is a risk-factor for hypertension.
These researches often recommend moderate intake of alcohol, which is also believed to have positive impact on the heart (7).
6. Lower Stress Level
Unfortunately, people face high stress level each day and this has adverse effect on blood pressure.
From exposure to traffic to less sleep, people accumulate stress and in the long run, it affects their lifestyle.
Stress could make a person depend on the wrong foods. It can increase craving for sweetened drink and snacks that are unhealthy and these foods are full of saturated fat.
As a result, hypertensive persons should identify the stressors they face and adjust.
7. Get A Good Sleep
Lack of enough sleep also contributes to onset of hypertension.
As a result, getting enough sleep is necessary to bring down hypertension and keep it down.
A 1999 study found in participants that blood pressure and heart rate significantly increased in the morning after a sleep-insufficient night s sleep deprivation (7)
If you would like to improve sleep level, kindly read our previous post on Good Night Sleep: Evening Foods That Help.
8. Lose Weight
Truly a persons weight also affects heart health. Studies highlight that as weight increases, the chance of hypertension rises.
A study found that persons in the highest body mass index quartile had a 16 mmHg higher systolic blood pressure and a 9 mmHg higher diastolic blood pressure than persons in the lowest body mass index quartile (8).
In another study, researchers concluded that weight loss is a key factor for hypertension prevention and treatment in children with obesity (9).
While it is a good thing to adjust lifestyle to reverse high blood pressure and keep it down, it is better to prevent the rise.
This you do by ensuring that you abide by healthy lifestyle that involves physical, activities, a healthy diet, a good night sleep, moderate intake of alcohol, no tobacco smoking and all that we have above.
If you find this helpful, kindly share with your friends and loved ones to help them know how to bring hypertension down and keep it down.